Customer Magnetism Review: Facebook Flirts With Privacy Issues – Again

Customer Magnetism Review is a monthly blog feature. We review various events, websites and products that you might want to check out – or not. It’s our way of keeping you up to date on the Internet’s latest.

Since Facebook hasn’t had enough issues with its users’ privacy over the past several months, it once again opened up the door to controversy this weekend. On Friday, the social media website unveiled another sharing feature – this time you can share your home address and phone number upon request. Just two days later, the opt-in feature has already been disabled. Through a number of complaints, Facebook found that its users are not too thrilled with the idea. It should be reintroduced with some changes in the next few weeks.

According to the Facebook Blog, the idea was to make it easier for e-commerce site users to have a quicker checkout time or set up direct alerts from websites or apps. Facebook users must deliberately grant permission by individual request. Based on the complaints Facebook received, the limitations on giving out permission were apparently not clear enough.

What does the new feature really mean? If you are giving out your phone number and home address, you are opening up a new avenue to telemarketing and junk mail. (Yes, there is a Facebook privacy clause that’s says developers cannot pass on Facebook information to data brokers and companies are supposed to follow it.) It also means that people you don’t know can show up on your doorstep or call you in the middle of the night at will. Possible? Yes. Likely? Maybe not. Something to consider before giving permission? Definitely.

As the sharing options for Facebook users grow, the acceptable privacy line seems to be wavering. There used to be a distinction between who had access to your birthday, telephone number, home address, email address, photos and posts. With Facebook updates recently added as an option to Yahoo! Mail and the new user object feature soon to roll out again in the next few weeks, the line is getting thinner and cloudier.

Sharing features may not be an issue for businesses that have social media marketing accounts. In fact, they are probably only too happy to share information with any potential customers. It is the individual user that needs to be on the lookout for opt-in and opt-out controls.

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